Yearning for equality: ‘Pastel Pink’ by Nikki Minty
March 30, 2023
A new fantasy series for teen readers by Australian Nikki Minty introduces a remarkable new world, while incorporating the everyday preoccupations of teenagers everywhere.
The first in the Zadok series, Pastel Pink is set on one of the four worlds on the Zadok planet. Each of the four races occupies their own part of the planet, speaks a different language, and has wildly different skin, hair and eye colouring. ‘Winter’ is the land of the Zeeks, where colour is like a strict caste system, from the upper level of the Purples, through Magenta, and to the lowest strata, the Pastel pinks.
Harlow is a Pastel, trying to get through life with all the disadvantages of her colour in a society that regards her kind as weak and useful only for the most mundane of work.
She has an added distraction: she moves between her Zeek home and persona, and her knowledge that she was once a human girl on Earth called Ruby. She is tormented by memories of having been murdered by Lucas, and her visions that show Lucas befriending her Earth twin sister – and there is nothing she can do to warn her or to stop him.
In between all of this, she is injured by a ferocious Zadok creature, befriended by Jax, the son of the Purple Commander, ignored by her opportunistic Zadok father, and detested by her Zadok twin sister. Life is complicated – on both worlds.
I enjoyed the world building in this novel, with its recognizable yet different environments, animals, customs and behaviours.
The cast of characters is numerous and complex, and because the action and point of view switches between Harlow and Ruby, and sometimes other characters as well, it did take me a while to get my head around them all.
At its core, this story is a plea for equality. The disdain and outright abuse that Pastels suffer because of their so-called inferior colour makes human discrimination based on skin colour appear as ridiculous as Zadok’s. There are echoes of human far-right fascist beliefs echoed in the Zadok caste system:
Being born a Pastel from two Magenta parents was unheard of until I came along. Lucky me. Purples produce Purples, Magentas produce Magentas, and Pastels produce Pastels. To date a Zeek outside of your colour status is a punishable offence, enforced by Purples. They want their superior bloodlines to remain pure.
Pastel Pink, eBook location 25
Pastel Pink will be enjoyed by teenage readers who enjoy fantasy with recognisable and relatable themes and characters. This is the first in the series, so fans can look forward to reading about the other worlds on Zadok. Pastel Pink was published in 2021; my thanks to the author for an eBook version.